Deadlift Progressions:

By Brent Brookbush, DPT, PT, COMT, MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS


For a comprehensive review of unstable load and surface training:


Deadlifts are an alternate progression to legs/triple extension progressions for lower body strengthening. They may be used for additional variety, as an alternate movement pattern for individuals with impairment, or as a progression with intent of focusing on hip extensor strength.

Relative Flexibility Progression:

Relative flexibility progressions are general guidelines for exercise selection that can be used while correcting postural dysfunction/movement impairment. Deadlifts (and progressions) are particularly useful as an alternate lower body strengthening progression for individuals exhibiting signs of lower extremity dysfunction (LED). As movement impairment improves continuation of the legs/triple extension Relative flexibility progressions may resume. Note, lumbo pelvic hip complex dysfunction (LPHCD) may limit use of deadlifts and progressions.

  • Deadlifts

Legs/Triple Extension Relative Flexibility Progression

  1. Ball Wall Squats
  2. Squats
  3. Step-Ups
  4. Lunges

Subsystems Recruited:

Deadlifts and progressions require significant trunk stabilization and coordinated recruitment of core subsystems. The intrinsic stabilization subsystem increases intra-abdominal pressure, stiffness of the thoracolumbar fascia, and maintains segmental stabilization and alignment. The posterior oblique subsystems (POS) is the prime mover of kinetic chain extension, and hip extension in particular. The